It’s a question popular radio podcast Freakonomics set out to answer. Host Stephen Dubner and frequent guest Steven Levitt knew that names can tell us a lot about the person or people doing the naming—like ideology, race, and social standing—but does a name really affect the outcome of a person’s personal and professional success?
Not so much. Their study found that with all else equal between two babies born at the same time, name did not move the needle in terms of economic status later in life. Naming was not destiny.
But even so, we have to wonder what naming does for people with truly bizarre, even criminal names. And we mean literally criminal. More than 200 people since the year 1800, for example, have been named “Jail.”
Unfortunately, we don’t have the data to tell you how having criminal names affects peoples’ lives (although we do welcome personal anecdotes), but thanks to our names database from census records dating all the way back to the 1800s, we can share some pretty outrageous examples with you.
Here are 11 people given “criminal” names who we hope turned out okay.
Written by K Dhillon US.CensusRoots